Heart of the Swarm: Kerrigan Is An Unsympathic Hero
Some will argue that Kerrigan was emotionally compromised. In response, I ask: You know that scene in horror movies when one of the characters suggests splitting up? Yeah, you don’t hear anyone bring up the emotionally compromised argument there — the audience immediately dislikes the character and hopes he dies. Characters who do not act with a modicum of intelligence do not evoke sympathy from an audience.
While not nearly as damning, Kerrigan’s unhelpful advice to her subordinates and her apparent flip-flopping on whether or not zerg lives matter serve as an icing of toothpaste on a rotten fruit cake. She expounds on the virtues of having “vision,” but never clearly explains what she means. She accuses the Protoss of the heinous act of having killed billions of zerg, but then expresses that she has no qualms sending millions of zerg to their deaths.
But now we’re touching upon morality. When dealing with antiheroes, writers will often include “pet the dog” moments that prove the character actually has a heart. For Kerrigan, I can only think of one: the time she chose to spare civilians at the expense of a great tactical advantage. Some of you may bring up the scene with General Warfield as a second example. You’d be wrong. Kerrigan choosing to spare Warfield’s wounded soldiers — who posed no threat to her — did not put her on the moral high ground. Killing them would have made her a villain. Not selecting the Dark Side option does not give her Light Side points.
Plus, she killed Warfield, a mortally wounded amputee who was just trying to protect his people. If you argue that this was an act of mercy, I’d urge you to take a look at that scene again. That was not mercy in her eyes — that was anger. The only sympathetic character in that scene was Warfield.
The great shame here is that Kerrigan could have been made into a sympathetic character. She was a victim of great suffering in her past. But that history does not come through in HotS. Wings of Liberty showed the cinematic in which Kerrigan was abandoned by Mengsk and captured by the zerg in such a powerfully touching scene. We needed moments like these in HotS to remind us why Mengsk is so deserving of death and why Kerrigan’s thirst for vengeance is so strong. Instead, the story relies entirely on a hammy tale of lost love to propel the plot along.
Rather than give us a conflicted character forced to cope with her newfound human weaknesses and experience an arc, Blizzard elected to offer us a cardboard cutout. Rather than a story that explored Kerrigan’s character, we got shots of Kerrigan’s posterior in spandex.
I feel cheated.